Artist: Visions Of Atlantis
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 6/5/2007
Genre: Symphonic Gothic Metal
From the moment that “Trinity” by Visions Of Atlantis begins you will be blown away by their uncanny similarity to the classic sound of Finland’s own superstars Nightwish. It is so much the case that when the first song “At The Back Of Beyond” begins that one would wonder if the group had slipped out some new music under a different name to trick their fan base. This was certainly not the case but Nightwish is truly part of the original inspiration for this Symphonic Power Metal band from Styria, Austria who formed and began playing music together in 2000. The energetic opening track offers big guitar, drums and keyboards along with a dueling clean male vocal against an operatic female one. Now before you groan in dismay at the thought of yet another Operatic Metal band fronted by a beautiful female lead singer let me tell you that Visions Of Atlantis is really something else when it comes down to it. “Trinity” is the bands third release and finds the group with an almost completely different roster from their original lineup so even those who thought they knew them before would find a need to re-educate themselves. I was surprised to have never heard them before this album but I was truly impressed with Melissa Ferlaak’s powerful vocal register and stunning beauty. Her voice is commanding and powerful and yet at other times is quite passionate as well. “Passing Dead End” comes off like another Nightwish tune but it has such a solid groove and pounding rhythm section that you easily forgive the similarity. When “The Poem” starts we find a quasi-ballad number that features their male vocalist Mario Plank a little more prominently and its one of those songs that you know the lighters will be lit up for at a live show. “Nothing Left” is one of the catchiest numbers on the release and is quite possibly the tune that most people will remember on the chorus and the way the lyrics flow. By the time I reached “My Darkside Home” I was hooked on the band and perhaps it was the comparisons I was originally drawing in my Nightwish statement that made me focus harder and look into each song a little deeper. Ferlaak shows off her wonderful soprano abilities during “Return To You” and might have listeners reaching for a Kleenex during portions of the track. Listeners will find that her voice stands tall on its own and would work well when compared to those of her contemporaries in the genre. Needless to say I was really enjoying almost all of the tracks presented here.
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Title: “Symphony Of Enchanted Lands, Vol. 2: The Dark Secret”
Label: SPV Records
Release Date: 9/28/2004
Style: Symphonic Metal
Rhapsody has returned with a new record label and a new release entitled “Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II: The Dark Secret”. Starting off with the one and only Christopher Lee who Narrates the tale that the group has outlined, you are quickly enraptured in a mystical world similar to that of the Author J.R.R. Tolkien. This is the type of CD that requires a few listens before you can pass proper judgment and believe me you will find something interesting on every play. Labels in the Metal genre have grown wider and weirder over the years and Rhapsody adds to this by forming “Film Score Metal”. Yes, you read that correctly and when “Unholy Warcry” begins you not only feel as if you are in a theatre but also that you were watching a great horse ride through open plains as heroes ride with swords raised high prepped for battle. It has a lot of upsides and yet on the same coin there are parts that can bore you if you if lose focus on the story being told. There are some great chorus and of course epic levels of guitar and drum work from the band. The line up (or cast for that matter) is: Fabio Lione (vocals), Luca Turilli (guitars), Alex Staropoli (keyboards), Patrice Guers (bass) and Alex Holzwarth (drums). There is some considerable dueling going on during the music between Luca and Alex S. with guitar and keyboards and it adds a lively sense of energy to the piece. Other tracks that I found myself leaning toward are “Never Forgotten Heroes” and “The Angel’s Last Call” (for it has a keyboard riff that is outstanding in my opinion). Fans of the Power Ballad will enjoy “The Magic Of The Wizard’s Dream” since that song clearly has raise your fist or lighter (or even illuminated cell phone) as it plays. While the whole group is accomplished, it is clear that some members stand out and on vocals it seems like Fabio is not only singing but acting as the album plays along. The group also provides some healthy epics with two songs running over 10 minutes. Their length is not all music but has some dialogue and story content to it which of course makes the story a little more interesting to follow.
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Title: “Live In Canada 2005: The Dark Secret”
Label: Magic Circle Music/SPV Records
Release Date: 1/31/2006
Genre: Symphonic Metal
The Mighty Rhapsody gives the world their first full concert album which was recorded in Canada while the group supported Manowar in 2005. The group was part of a killer lineup that placed The Kings Of Metal with Rhapsody and Holy Hell (not to be confused with Rob Rock’s album) and together they toured the US and Canada for a series of sold-out capacity crowd shows. For fans of Symphonic Power Metal the name of Rhapsody is not at all a new name, it’s just the amount of music available in certain markets is limited which sadly affects the bands influence. Fortunately, SPV Records gave us “Symphony Of Enchanted Lands, Vol 2: The Dark Secret” in 2004 which continued the bands exploration into the different levels of Metal that they were well known for. On “Live In Canada 2005: The Dark Secret” the band is found in perfect form and performing for a very hungry and supportive audience. Not only are 4 numbers from the last studio album present but the album also covers some ground from their back catalog. The music from “SOELv2” is very rich in its orchestration parts and is done very well especially in the epic track of “Erian’s Mystical Rhymes”. My favorites from this album are included on this live recording and those are “Unholy Warcry” and “Nightfall On The Grey Mountains”. Their classic numbers that I leaned toward are “Emerald Sword” and “Dawn Of Victory”. I was a little sad that “Holy Thunderforce” was not performed as this was the first song that I enjoyed from this band. However given this was a supporting slot for them the luxury of time is limited. Everyone in the group is on top of their game and singer Fabio Lione showcases the level of skill he possesses as he performs an operatic number in “Lamento Eroico”. Composer/keyboardist Alex Staropoli certainly did a great job in getting all of this music together. Luca Turilli (guitars), Patrice Guers (bass) and Alex Holzwarth (drums) all perform in an effortless fashion and seem very tight for the level of speed that Rhapsody music sometimes entails.
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